Umbra Fisk

Ask Umbra®

Advice for Living Green

Yours is to wonder why, hers is to answer (or try). Send your green-living questions to Umbra.

For even more green goodness, you can follow Umbra on Twitter (@AskUmbra) or become a fan on Facebook.

Umbra Fisk is Grist Research Associate II, Hardcover and Periodicals Unit, floors 2B-4B.


Ask Umbra: Can I sneak a compost bin past my homeowners association?

A reader wants to start composting without offending their nosy neighborhood group. Umbra detects a whiff of rebellion.


Ask Umbra: Do they still make alarm clocks that don’t require batteries or electricity?

A reader is tired of waking up to her smartphone. Umbra crows about the alternatives.


Ask Umbra: Which is greener, grass or artificial turf?

A reader wonders if AstroTurf is as ducky as it seems. Umbra says beware the faux grass.


Ask Umbra: Is somebody sneaking palm oil into my food and shampoo?

A reader notices that unsustainable palm oil is showing up in everything. Umbra helps him turn over a new leaf.


Ask Umbra: What’s the best way to get my local veggies?

A reader wonders about those produce-in-a-box services. Umbra delivers the goods.


Ask Umbra: Is it safer to ride a bike or drive a car?

A reader is worried about becoming road pizza. Umbra breaks out the pie charts.


Ask Umbra: What should I do with used tissues, old mixtapes, and rage against the greens?

Readers wonder how best to dispose of snotty tissues and outdated casettes -- and whether breathing contributes to global warming. Umbra keeps a cool head.


Ask Umbra: How do I fight my city’s terrible litter problem?

A reader's burg is infested with litterbugs. Umbra says that with a little help, you can squash a problem like that.


Ask Umbra: How do I know if my local swimming hole is safe?

A reader wonders if it's OK for her kids to dip into a nearby river. Umbra gets testy.

Got 2.7 seconds?

We've devised the world's shortest survey to find out what kind of actions our readers are taking. You know you want to.